How To Start A Preventive Maintenance Plan (Ridiculously Simple Guide)
If you’re currently relying solely on reactive maintenance, then your company is probably wasting tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year due to a lack of a consistent preventive maintenance plan.
The good news is that starting a preventive maintenance program isn’t complicated when you have a clear idea of the steps you need to take.
Not so coincidentally, that is the focus of this article.
If you have a few minutes to spare, we’ll show you how to set up your initial preventive maintenance schedule in just a few simple steps.
After that, we will show you preventive maintenance examples and discuss how to best present your idea to the upper management to get a green light and proceed with the implementation.
But, before we dive in further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the meaning of Corrective and Preventive maintenance.
Corrective maintenance vs preventive maintenance
Corrective maintenance is a maintenance task performed to identify, isolate, and rectify a fault so that the failed equipment, machine, or system can be restored to an operational condition within the tolerances or limits established for in-service operations. Simplified, corrective maintenance focuses on diagnosing and fixing broken assets.
Preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) is work that is performed regularly (on a scheduled basis) in order to minimize the chance that a certain piece of equipment will fail and cause costly unscheduled downtime. Preventative maintenance is hence performed while the equipment is still in working condition.
As good as a 545% return sounds, it can still be tough to get the go-ahead from upper management. To help you accomplish this goal we have put together a simple step-by-step guide on how to convince your manager and make the switch to preventive maintenance activities.
For now, let’s focus on the thing you came here for – how to create an efficient preventive maintenance plan.
Getting started: step-by-step preventive maintenance plan
Step #1: Decide which assets go first on the PM schedule
If this is your first time making a preventive maintenance plan, we suggest that you start by scheduling preventive maintenance on your most critical assets.
It’s going to be easier to convince higher-ups and see quick results if you start with one or two assets to prove value. Additionally, this will give you and your team some breathing room to adjust and transition into a proactive maintenance mindset and workflow.
When trying to determine which assets to select for your preventive maintenance plan, ask yourself the following questions:
Which machines are most important to production/organizational success?
Is regular maintenance required for this piece of equipment?
Are the repair and replacement costs high?
You’ll want to select machines that require regular maintenance and have higher replacement/repair costs as this will provide your company with the greatest returns. You’ll also want to steer clear of assets that are reaching the end of their rope – so don’t pick equipment that will need to be replaced soon.
Step #2: Gather all the necessary info
Once you’ve selected the machines to work with, put together a preventative maintenance plan that highlights the return on investment. To do this, you’ll need to calculate the dollar amount that you would save annually for each asset.
Now that you’ve decided which assets you want on your preventive maintenance plan, you need a list of specific maintenance tasks that will be performed on them, as well as the frequency of those tasks.
Here is a list of different sources you can use to gather necessary info:
1) Look at the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) recommendations
Equipment manufacturers have a plethora of statistical data from in-house testing and field tests done by customers. The manuals they provide often contain schedules for necessary maintenance, the usage of critical spare parts, and basic maintenance work instructions.
2) Use the data from your maintenance history
Even if you are not using a CMMS (computer maintenance management system) right now, you will hopefully have some sort of maintenance log available. Look at what kind of failures did the asset you put on your PM plan experienced in the past (and how often).
From that, you can roughly extrapolate what kind of preventive work you can schedule (and how often) to prevent some of those failure modes in the future.
Here is an example of the maintenance log and how it looks inside Limble:
3) Talk with your maintenance technicians and machine operators
As a proactive maintenance manager, some insights you can only get by talking to the people that are turning the wrench and that are in the contact with the machines daily. More often than not, they will have some information you can’t find in maintenance logs and reports.
For instance, you might find out that one of your technicians had to improvise a solution after a recent breakdown because he didn’t have all the necessary spare parts on hand. While he was able to get the machine running, some components are currently experiencing additional wear and tear. Because of that, you need to schedule regular inspections of those components until those spare parts arrive and the problem is resolved.
After you’re done gathering the data, you will have a list that could look something like this:
As you can see from the picture above, it’s usually not a bad idea to also include additional notes for certain tasks so a technician knows exactly what he needs to do. Here is another resource for Frequency of Preventive Maintenance Inspections.
Step #3: Create the initial preventive maintenance plan
If everything went according to plan, you now have the list of all the needed preventive maintenance tasks and a general idea of how often you need to perform each of those tasks on a particular asset.
All that is left is to enter the data into your maintenance planning tool (hopefully a CMMS), assign your tasks to the correct people, and add a priority and due date to ensure the whole team is on the same page.
If you want to see an actual example of a preventive maintenance plan, we have one just a few scrolls below.
Step #4: Track & adjust
One of the time-consuming traps you need to avoid when implementing preventive maintenance is scheduling too much preventive work and giving too much attention to assets that don’t need it.
The good news is that this challenge is easily solved, especially if you are using a modern CMMS like Limble. You just need to:
Log into your CMMS
Open asset cards for the assets that are on your PM plan
Open asset report
What you should concentrate on is how much preventive work has been done on an asset and how many failures (if any) did it experience since you’ve placed it onto a PM plan.
The rest is quite simple.
Asset didn’t experience even a single breakdown? Maybe it could still operate without failures with less preventive work spent on it.
Asset experiences regular failures despite regular check-ups and other preventive measures?
It is possible to schedule even more preventive work on it after you investigate what those breakdowns were and what caused them.
You won’t know for sure until you test it.
Lastly, you have to be aware that your initial PM schedule will never be perfect – and that is perfectly fine.
Bottom line, as long as you’re ready to adjust your preventive maintenance plan according to the maintenance logs and feedback you get from your technicians, you have nothing to worry about.
Step #5: Expand your preventive maintenance program to all assets
The goal of your initial preventive maintenance plan was to:
Prove that preventive maintenance can provide significant ROI<
Give yourself and your technicians a transition period to get used to the changes in the workflow and to switch to a proactive mindset
If you were able to do both of these things, it means you’ll be able to get a green light from your superiors to continue working on your preventive maintenance strategy.
If that is indeed the case, then it is time to repeat these steps and expand your preventive maintenance program to the rest of your assets that will benefit from it.
We know that entering a lot of data into a CMMS all at once doesn’t sound like a fun proposal. That’s why we set up Limble in a way where you can just prepare an Excel CSV file of your assets, click upload, and let Limble to the rest of the work.
Example of a preventive maintenance plan
For this example, let’s imagine you are a maintenance manager in a facility that turns meat (and some other things we don’t like to think about) into salami and pate.
Driven by recent breakdowns that incurred huge losses for the firm and the pressure to reduce maintenance costs by an additional 15% by the end of the fiscal year, you’ve decided to give preventive maintenance a try by testing it on a single asset.
STEP #1 – Choosing the asset
After giving it some thought, the asset you’ve decided to put on a preventive maintenance plan is called emulsifier (also known as a micro cutter) – a machine that grinds down the meat into a fine mixture without any crumbs or chunks.
That asset is a perfect fit because:
requires daily and weekly maintenance
it is a critical asset which breakdown shuts down the complete production
costs north of $200 000 to replace
STEP #2 – Making a list of needed preventive tasks
Now it is time to see what kind of regular preventive work needs to be done on this asset to ensure it works in peak operating condition and minimize any chance for an unexpected failure.
By looking at the OEM recommendations you wrote down the next list of tasks:
Task #1: Clean & examine knife heads
Task #2: Replace belts x 1
Task #3: Inspect lag rings x 2 (meaning 2 times per week)
Task #4: Grease the lubricator nipple of the cutter housing x 2
Task #5: Change perforated plates x 2
Task #6: Examine the sealing rubber x1
While we are going to take these recommendations at a face value, you should not. Before you use this data to create a preventive maintenance schedule, talk with your technicians, and look at any available maintenance logs and reports. Find out what is the current condition of the asset in question, and use that information to adjust the PM schedule accordingly.
STEP #3 – Creating and implementing PM schedule
Now that you have the list of needed preventive maintenance tasks, it is time to assign them to your maintenance team and let the magic happen.
Here is an illustrative example of how would that look if you were using Limble CMMS:
To properly support your preventive maintenance efforts, we focused on delivering a superb user experience. We did that by introducing an easy to use PM a calendar that gives you a clear overview of open and upcoming work, automating PM scheduling, allowing you to change due dates with a simple drag and drop, automatically logging completed work in the asset’s maintenance log and much more.
Requirements for a successful implementation of a preventive maintenance program
When you have all the pieces in place, creating a preventive maintenance program is a fairly easy and straightforward job.
Oftentimes, maintenance scheduling and getting all the pieces in the right place is the thing that makes this process more challenging than it needs to be.
Let’s take a minute to see how you can deal with common obstacles and prevent them from derailing the success of your preventive maintenance program.
1) Upper management support
Of course, you know that there is no point in making any bigger plans if you first didn’t get a green light from the upper management. A great example of this would be The Pellissippi State Community College Preventive Maintenance (PM) Plan
As this is something that can often be harder than creating the preventive maintenance plan itself, we compiled a few tips that could help you get that seal of approval.
A) Estimate your return on investment (ROI)
First, you need to ask yourself what the primary decision-makers for your maintenance plan are most interested in. For better or worse, the answer is almost always the same – profit.
So, the most helpful method to reach a successful outcome is to speak their language. The easiest way to do that is to talk about ROI.
Here’s an example of how to estimate your return on investment.
First, you need to select a few machines because the best way to do this is by calculating the dollar amount that you could save annually for each asset.
As we already mentioned, you’ll want to concentrate on the machines that require regular maintenance and have higher replacement/repair costs as this will provide your team members with the greatest returns.
To calculate this dollar amount, you have to answer the following questions:
How often does each machine require routine preventive care? This information can be found in the machine’s manual (which can often also be found online by visiting the manufacturer’s website).
What’s been the average dollar amount of corrective maintenance required for each asset? Take a peek at your maintenance data and record the number of times your selected machine(s) has needed maintenance over a given time (perhaps the past year). And most importantly, note the costs of those fixes. If you don’t have that data, that’s okay, track down estimates to give you a base to go off of.
Now that you have the numbers, do a little data crunching and see how much corrective maintenance is costing you and how much preventative maintenance work you would need to do to drastically reduce it.
You can expect to reduce corrective maintenance costs by up to 70% with a good preventive maintenance plan.
Here is a simplified example of such a calculation for a forklift.
An important thing to note is that, while this calculation takes into account fewer breakdowns, it doesn’t consider the additional benefits of longer asset lifetime, greater operational efficiency, improved workplace safety, or improved parts inventory due to less unpredictability.
If you want to learn more, you can refer to our guide on calculating CMMS ROI (there is an interactive calculator at the end of the post you can use to estimate CMMS ROI for your organization).
B) Present a convincing argument
As many chefs would say – “it’s all in the presentation!”. You need to make sure you’ve put together a compelling plan for convincing your boss(es) that it’s time to make the switch.
Talk about the GOALS. Every proper plan needs to have laid out goals that show what you are trying to accomplish.
Lay out the problems of your current situation. There is a reason why you want to implement a preventive maintenance plan. Show them all the problems you are running into, but concentrate on how costly reactive maintenance is/can be.
Showcase the potential savings and ROI. A cherry on top to seal the deal. Use the ROI calculations we talked about earlier to drive the point home.
Hopefully, this will be enough to prove that preventive maintenance is the best long-term strategy for minimizing sudden expenses, keeping stable operational costs, and improving the bottom line.
The reason for that is simple. Preventive maintenance and CMMS go together like peanut butter and jelly, tea and biscuits, or Batman and Robin.
CMMS is designed to simplify, automate, and organize your maintenance operations. One of the most significant ways it does that is by helping you create, implement, track, and optimize your preventive maintenance plan.
Now, if you only have a few assets on your preventive maintenance schedule, it is possible to manage preventive maintenance work without a CMMS.
When push comes to shove, your goal is to improve the efficiency of your maintenance operations. If you want to do that, what’s the point of a preventive maintenance plan that you are going to implement manually with Outlook and Excel?
You will have no real data insight, schedules will probably be missed due to lack of notifications, and completed work will need to be recorded manually from written notes.
Having a preventive maintenance plan in place is a huge step in the right direction, but you shouldn’t let your efforts go to waste. The oversight and control you get with a CMMS will ensure that you squeeze every last drop of value from your carefully crafted preventive maintenance program. Not to mention how CMMS also makes your life a lot easier by doing the heavy lifting of sending notifications, copying PM schedules, tracking work history, and much more.
3) Maintenance team that is willing to follow it
Switching to a preventive maintenance strategy usually means that you will have to introduce some changes in the daily workflow of your maintenance team.
If your organization currently views maintenance as a necessary evil, there’s a chance your technicians have previously lacked all of the resources they needed to be successful, so they may be reluctant to start a new maintenance program.
Getting your maintenance team on board with implementing preventive maintenance programs and CMMS is essential to your success. Your technicians will be the most active participants, and it’s critical that they feel motivated to accurately complete and report regular maintenance tasks so that you can get the most value out of your improved system.
A key to utilizing the skills and enthusiasm of your maintenance team is to explain how this switch will make their life easier by reducing the number of emergency calls on nights and weekends, simplifying their workflow, and making their work safer and less unpredictable.
Once you’ve helped them understand how implementing a preventive maintenance plan will benefit them, you can make the transition even smoother by explaining the details of the changes you’re making, including the time frame of implementation, individual responsibilities, and changes to the workflow.
And there you have it.
We hope that we answered most of your questions and left you with all the tools you need to implement a preventive maintenance plan that will help you extend the life of your critical equipment, reduce operating costs, and significantly improve your overall maintenance operations.
If you think we missed something, let us know in the comments below.
And if you’re looking for a CMMS that can maximize your preventive maintenance efforts, get in touch and give us a chance to show you why Limble is a perfect choice.
"Great experience. Solved our obvious PM tracking issues but also addressing our SHE&S requirements (safety audit task tracking), Environmental checks are being logged, Corporate Audit items tracked"
— Michael Babcock
Great time saver
"On average, [Limble] saves me an hour to two hours a day, depending on the workload. The biggest thing for me is being able to do things on my phone, on the fly."
— Rob Siler
A must for any maintenance department
"The thing that I loved the most right from the start was the ease of use of the Limble software. The customization options available when setting up PM's are great. I love the flexibility it gives to tailor the PM to exactly what your needs are."
— Richard Dunaway
Great for smaller or larger facilities
"We haven't fully integrated Limble yet but we are already seeing improvements in our efficiency. As we fully integrate Limble we expect to see more benefits and increase our response and completion times. The customer support has been outstanding. The Limble team is very quick to respond to any questions and they are very open to suggestions."
— Mike Hill
Children's Home of Lubbock
Wow. You guys are amazing...
"Wow. You guys are amazing... your software really one-up's the competition. I've found several with some of the functionality, but much clunkier designs. I reviewed 16 CMMS packages, and yours was an easy choice. Thank you again. Well done."
— Loren Overby
It just works
"Honestly - the customer support has been fabulous. We had a minor feature request that was deployed within 24 hours - which is unheard of. Even better when you consider our business is located in a completely different time zone (somewhere in Australia). Limble is quite intuitive and I love the ability to have assets nested within each other."